If you keep up with the buzz around pro athletes, you may know that TJ Tollakson is known as a bit of a tinkerer. He likes to do a lot of custom projects in the hopes of finding little aerodynamic advantages that his opponents don't have. It's a mindset that we at TriRig always love to see. So when Tollakson announced that he was going to manufacture an entire bike, we took notice. And nestled in a small booth, tucked away at the far corner of the basement at Interbike, we found his first prototype frame, dubbed the Black Dimond. This is a pretty cool piece of kit, and one that a lot of the tri world has been excited to see, yet it was nearly hidden away, and many people aren't going to find it. But we did, and we're delighted to show it to you.
It's a beam bike, and is missing a seat post or seat stays. As expected, the Dimond looks a lot like the Zipp 2001 frame that was its inspiration. It looks so much like the Zipp that some people will be forgiven for thinking Tollakson is just using Zipp's old molds. But these are all his own, and there are definitely changes to the design.
My first impression of the bike is one of mixed feelings. I love the idea of a beam bike, I love it even more because it's being pioneered by TJ, and I like it even more because of its Zipp heritage. And in case you didn't notice, it has TriRig Omega brakes, front AND back, which obviously I love.
On the other hand, the bike's frontal profile is rather wide. It's using a BIG head tube, that covers a lot of frontal area. That's kindof a bummer in my opinion. I understand why it's done - the extra area increases stiffness, which is required due to all the extra forces that are coming down on that head tube area that would otherwise be shared by the seat tube cluster. Moreover, the down tube doesn't drop down to meet the fork, so there's a gap between the rear wheel and the intersection of the fork crown and down tube. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but with super clean transitions on bikes like the Felt DA, Cervelo P5, and Blue Triad SL, an expectation has arisen that modern bikes will clean up that area as much as possible. At present, the Dimond doesn't do that.
Of course, everyone is welcome to draw their own conclusions. Despite my nitpicks, I'm very excited to see more of this bike as its development continues, and obviously I'm glad to see TJ equip it with the Omega brakes.